Istanbul is the largest city of Turkey with a population of approximately 13 million people which makes it one of the largest cities in Europe. The city sits on both Asia and Europe that makes it arguably the only city that is located on two continents. Istanbul used to be the capital to Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by Ottomans in 1453. The date is considered in modern history to be the end of Middle Ages. The modern day Istanbul is very different than what is used to be and faced many changes and challenges since the end of Ottoman Empire during the beginning of 20th century. Due to its perfect location, Istanbul throughout centuries has never lost its important status as a port of commerce and a cultural center. As Turkey’s economy has recently started to emerge again in the last few decades, the city has again started showing changes of going back to its glamorous days. Istanbul is one of the nine candidates for the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics and it also hosts many different international conferences and exhibitions throughout the year.
ATM’s are widely available throughout Istanbul and you should have no problems if you land in the city with nothing but a credit card. Credit cards, however are usually not accepted by most of the government agencies, public museums or other historic places run by the government. You may frequently have to run into an ATM and withdraw some cash to cover for such expenses. Visa and MasterCard are two of the most popular credit cards and they are accepted by almost every merchant that has a processing machine. However, you may have difficulties at some places if you are carrying an American Express Credit Card. Most of the touristic places, larger shops and hotels will accept American Express but still you have a better chance carrying a Visa or a MasterCard with you rather than running into a merchant that does not accept AMEX. If you are traveling to the suburbs, you may want to stop by an ATM and withdraw some cash while you are still in the city. Citibank branches provide the option of making withdrawals in multiple type of currencies such as US Dollar or Turkish Yeni Lira.
Exchange bureaus are very popular in touristic areas and usually are easy to spot. They exchange almost all currencies and charge no commission while offering good exchange rates. The change bureaus at the airport or most of the hotels do usually not charge a fee either but they offer worse exchange rates. You should try to avoid exchanging the bulk of you currency at the airport. Instead, try to exchange an amount that you think will be enough for a day or two and save the rest to the city.
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